Game fowl purity. Quite an overused phrase, and may even sound boring to many of us. Why, because many would say there you are again, rehashing what had already been rehashed for countless number of times.
Yes, it is true that game fowl purity has become one of the most talked about and controversial topics in game fowl breeding. In fact, there are more disagreements in this topic as there are in other game fowl breeding and management topics.
Why disagreements? Simple. If I say that a particular fowl is pure, not a few breeders will react with grave concern and tell me point blank that there is no such thing as pure chicken. True! Look. Except for clones, there are no two individuals that are exactly phenotypically and genetically alike. No, not even identical twins.
Now, even if two chickens are alike in most aspects, they differ in the way they express their traits because of differences in environment. As breeding experts say, no two individuals are in exactly the same environment at exactly the same time. Believe it? You better.
We may be able to provide the best environment to the fowls for their optimal development, but there always are micro-differences in the environment that may spell the difference between good and mediocre performance.
Now, what am I trying to drive at? Well, I am not about to refute the claim that no two chickens are alike, because it is true. However, if we widen our horizon, we will be able to see things from a clearer perspective.
You see, there are different categories of fowl purity. From a simplistic point of view, game fowls are different from one another because all of them are crosses. Of course, with crossing, we mean the mating of fowls from different bloodlines. We know pretty well that the resulting progeny is a combination of the original bloodlines used.
With indiscriminate crossing, the fowls become even more crossed up, more often than not causing trouble to the breeder rather than genetic progress.
Back to widening our breeding horizon. More often than not, we concern ourselves basically with only one category – that is, that every bloodline is a product of crossing and, therefore is not pure. What we fail to recognize is that purity is not always concerned with the totality of the chicken.
This may be difficult to believe or understand, but I can take just one characteristic and say that my fowl is pure – at least for the said characteristic. I can extend this to more traits, and conclude after a while that my fowls are pure as far as these traits are concerned. Although almost impossible under the conditions that we do game fowl breeding, I can even include all traits and still say that my fowl’s pure!
If we examine this closely, we will note that the extent of purity of the game fowl is based how homozygous their gene pairs or allelic pairs are. The more gene pairs are homozygous, the purer the fowl is. Just what do we mean by homozygous? Ok. Let’s go back to the chromosomes.
Chromosomes are the ones that contain the genes, and they come in pairs – hence, we have the ZZ chromosomes for males and ZW chromosomes for females. The chicken has 37 pairs of chromosomes, 36 of which are for the different traits, while the 37th is for the gender of the bird and some of its characteristics linked to it.
There are questions: What are in the genes and chromosomes? What do they have to do with genetic purity in chickens? Will they answer our question on the other category of purity that we want to get across? They should, but in the next post. Wait for it!